Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu has declared elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark and others as betrayers of the southeast people.
Kalu however pointed out that the people of the region are wiser and understand the need to align with mainstream politics in Nigeria.
He also wondered why Chief Clark, the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) chose to attack him alone over his decision to quit the 2023 presidential race while ignoring others.
Naija News reports that Clark had earlier labelled Kalu as a dishonest and insincere person who betrayed the Igbo people for his own selfish desires by withdrawing from the 2023 presidential race and declaring support for Senate President Ahmad Lawan who is from the northeast.
But Senator Kalu in a personally signed news statement on Thursday in which he responded to Chief Clark, denied any wrongdoing.
The lawmaker said while many were clamouring for a 2023 southern presidency, he was the first person to demand a southeast presidency before others joined him.
He stated that it was clear other sub-regions in the south were not even ready to concede the ticket to southeast, hence the need to form a political alliance with the northeast which should give the region an opportunity to lay claim to the presidency in the nearest future.
In the statement tilted ‘Edwin Clark: You And Others Betrayed South East , We Are Only Wiser’ Kalu said he has great respect for the PANDEF leader but on this note, he has done nothing wrong save what is best politically for the entire Igbo people.
“I have great respect for Chief Edwin Clark; He is an elderstatesman and a patriotic Nigerian. I want to sincerely commend him for openly supporting the South-East geo-political zone to produce the next President of Nigeria.
It is imperative I remind him that I didn’t betray my people, rather I am doing my best to reintegrate them into mainstream politics,” the statement opened.
Kalu added that “in the last two years, I have been at the forefront agitating for a Nigerian President of South-East extraction, when most of them were all saying “Southern Presidency”. None of these actors openly said the South-East geo-political zone should have it. I was shocked that even the zone the entire South-East supported in unity including myself in 2011 and 2015 respectively, has the highest number of contestants without thinking of their brothers, knowing fully well that the South East zone has remained the only zone in Southern Nigeria that has not produced the nation’s president since the rotation convention dispensation that began in 1999.
Coming to this late hour to support the South East is rather suspicious to me if they couldn’t do it two years ago. The truth is, Chief Edwin Clark knows the South-East cannot get the ticket of any party in an open contest as it is today without a gentleman agreement to concede it to the South-East.
If all the aspirants from the South-West and South-South cannot support their brothers from the South-East, It is only politically correct to support the North-East geo-political zone, which to me is the shortest route for the South-East geo-political zone to produce the president after their 8 years instead of waiting for another 16 years.”
The Abia Senator wondered why Clark has singled him out for criticism but has not deemed it fit to challenge those who have openly worked against the move for a southern/southeast President to emerge in 2023.
“It is rather surprising to me that Chief Edwin Clark didn’t call the majority of other Southerners including governors working against the South-East to order or the names he called me.
What did you say or do when all the aspirants from South South and South West were buying forms to run against South Easterners who have always supported them .
I know some people want us to keep quiet and then allow other Southerners take turn of South East. If you meant well for the South East , you could have discouraged other aspirants against running for President. Nothing stops the South supporting only presidential aspirants from the South East . The betrayers are those who don’t care about South East . We are wiser.
Let me also inform the elderstatesman that majority of the Southerners in his party (PDP) are secretly supporting a Northeasterner to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari,” he said.
The Senator maintained that he did not betray the Igbo people by dropping his 2023 presidential ambition neither does he have any plan to betray them in the future, adding that he has lost his personal business defending the people of the region and has no personal glory to seek.
“The welfare of my people is a passion that is driving me, I am not doing anything to advance my personal interest or seek personal glorification. I also lost my businesses fighting for the political interest of the Igbos. I cannot betray them now if I didn’t do it yesterday,” Kalu submitted.